This is a game that was played in a Class Event between Danilo Mariani and Barry Jewell. Let's find out what happened, including a little bit of opening theory, chess terms and easy chess tactics.
Note: comments prefaced by OT are not game related - just some brief explanation on the opening and the terms that are used in openings in general.
[Event "CL5-2013.05.10"] [Site "IECC"] [Date "2013.08.09"] [Round "?"] [White "Mariani, Danilo"] [Black "Jewell, Barry"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "1531"] [BlackElo "1542"] [ECO "E18"] [WhiteCountry "ITA"] [BlackCountry "CAN"] [Annotator "Heyvaert, Philippe"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6
[OT: Now Barry has chosen to play 3... b6 so this makes this the Queen Indian opening. Indian usually means a fianchetto and Black will follow up with Bb7 real soon on the Queen side: therefore Queen Indian.]
[OT: So Danilo continues by playing the Main Line of this opening. Other possibilities include:
[OT: Now Black's fianchetto is complete. The aim of this move is putting pressure on the center with piece(s) from a distance instead of occupying it with a pawn. So this makes this the Old Main Line of this opening. The Modern Main Line continues with 4... Ba6. Mostly followed by 5.b3. Now watch out for a little trap for White in the Modern Main Line of the Queen Indian: 5... Bb4+ 6.Nbd2 will get White out of position after 6... Bc3 7.Rb1 Bb7 and Black has a very strong follow up move with 8... Ne4! and White will be in trouble.]
5.Bg2 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.Nc3 d5
[OT: 7... Ne4 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 Would have been textbook. White has more space in this position. Black has no real weak position and can create counterplay with moves like 9... c5 - 9... f5 - 9... Be4, most of the time heading towards a draw.]
[8... Nbd7 9.Bf4 c6 or even 9... c5 maybe was a little better for Black. The Knight on a6 only covers 4 squares, whilst on d7 it covers 6 squares.]
9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bf4
[This is a good positional move, White could even have already played it a move earlier.]
[This is probably the best move for Black; it's still rather equal with a good position for White at the moment.]
11.Rc1 Ne4 12.dxc5
[White can also play 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.dxc5 Nxc5 14.Qc2 Rc8 15.Rfd1 creating pressure on the c- and d-file.]
[Now Black was thinking about 2 options for White:
Option 1 - 13.Rxc3, feeling the Rook is outplaced somewhat. Now this is a matter of opinion. After capturing with the Rook, Black can't play 13... d4 straight away. Continuing with 14.Bxb7 dxc3 15.Bxa6 (15.Bxa8 will not win a direct piece for White, but White will still have a better position) 15... Qxd1 16.Rxd1 Rxa8+, and White will have 2 minor pieces against one Black Rook (which won't be a draw against a strong player...).
Option 2 - 13.bxc3, but this would be a bad move for White; the pawn structure doesn't look good at all. Against a player that is good at skipping the middle game by a fast exchange of pieces, to advance to the end game early, White could get in some serious trouble there.]
[So White's main threat after 13.Rxc3 will be a follow up move like 14.c6 creating a lot of trouble on Black's Queen side. So this Black move is an excellent choice using logic and good basic chess strategy: eliminate the threat in a quite safe manner.]
14.Rc2 Ne6 15.Be3
[We are in the middle game here, and some opponents and IECC friends ask me how I decide on tactical options in a game. We're at a point where I can propose a tactical decision for White. Now White doesn't want to lose his strongly posted Bishop on f4, that's why he played it to e3. There are some other options.
First one: 15.Qd2 this is a positional move that can be played in this situation. I have 2 reasons for this: 1st - when Black wants to exchange the Bishop on b4 with 15... Nxf4, White can retake with 16.Qxf4 keeping his pawn structure intact. 2nd - White's Queen get's out behind the pawn on e2, aiming indirectly at the King side and you create the posibility to get the Rook at f1 involved in the battle on either c- or d-file. Second option: if you're facing a higher ranked player you might want to keep things simple. Exchanging pieces makes things easier, so you can play 15.Nc6 Bxc6 16.Rxc6 Nxf4 17.gxf4 look at White's pawn structure now, it's not so good on the King side, but Black has got an isolated pawn on the d-file, it will be very hard to defend, White is already attacking it with 2 pieces. These are some options you have got as White.]
15... Bf6 16.Ng4 Bg5
Perhaps 16... Be7 is better for Black 17.f4 Nc5 18.b4 and the situation remains equal. Now Black was going after the strong dark-squared White Bishop, which is a good intention. I explaned earlier about this strong Bishop. Now the strong position for the Bishop was f4 and White pulled it back to e3. There's less danger from that Bishop on that square for the moment. Black should started focussing on the d-pawn in trouble now.]
17.Rd2 Bxe3 18.Nxe3 Qf6
[Black understands the d-pawn is lost and is now trying to put pressure on the b2 pawn. I still wonder why. The first 2 moves for Black that pop-up in my mind: 18... Nc7 or 18... Rc8, they both will give White a slight advantage. But the 1st one protects the d-pawn and the 2nd one takes the c-file, tactical options: defend (1) or attack (2)?]
19.Bxd5 Bxd5 20.Nxd5 Qh6
[Black is losing his grip on the game, maybe 20... Qe5 or 20... Qd8 can be a better alternative but how you look at it doens't matter... the d-pawn is gone. Black tries to prepare the follow up move Nf4. Aiming at gxf4 recapture, get the pawn structure of White out of place.]
[Nice chance for me to explain a chess term: 'zugzwang', this is the case for Black in this move. His King is checked by a Knight, therefore he must move the King (since he can't capture the White Knight) and he only has square h8 available. So this makes calculating what your opponent is going to play easier as White. 'Zugzwang' is very important in the end game, keep that in mind.]
[I would have played 22.Nf5 probably followed by a move sequence like this: 22... Qg5 23.e4 Rad8 24.Nd6 Qe7 25.Re1 Rd7 26.e5 g6 It would have been an interesting position, this one. Now if Black plays 26... f6 White follows with 27.Nf5! and then 27... Rxd2 28.Qxd2 Qf7 29.Qd5 h6 30.f4 with chances for a very good attack for White.]
22... Nf4 23.gxf4
[Interesting position before move #23 from White. Now this is the difference between Chess with a capital 'C' and checkers. In chess you don't have to capture a piece when you have the opportunity. This makes chess so nice... I would suggest 23.Rd6! Ne6 24.e4 Qf6 25.Qb3 and White saves his pawn structure with this little combination. Now what would have happened in checkers? Black is getting back in the game by the way.]
23... Qxc6 24.f3?
[This move is a draw move, I understand why White plays it: King in danger so I need extra room to escape. Here's the thing: it's not a good move. Now we stay calm and look at the board: Black's Queen is having the a8-h1 diagonal but I see no Bishop on the board, there is no danger for White. Black can only check once with Qg6 followed by Kh1 and the next move White plays Rg1 gainig control of the semi open g-file. So if Black plays Qg6+ he would indirectly help White in getting an attack on. They call this in chess terms 'losing a tempo' or in English losing time now if Black checks on g6 he loses time while White gaines time. A tempo is crucial in end games, just remember that.]
24... Qf6 25.e3 Rfe8 26.Qb3 Re6 27.Rd7 Rae8 28.Rxa7 h6 29.Kh1 Rxe3 30.Qxf7 Qxb2
[Black is trying to play his Rook to e1, with serious checkmate possibilities. Now the position is equal, the scale can tip in both directions.]
[Let's start a little test, this move is not bad at all. Now look at 31.Rf2. What can Black do? Just think about that move, I'm not suggesting it is better but it 'feels' different. I was thinking about a move sequence like this 31... Qb1+ 32.Kg2 (now never play 32.Rf1 because 32... QxRf1# is checkmate). If Black plays 32... Re1 White plays 33.Qxg7# and checkmate. I think 31.Rf2 is a very interesting move to play, both sides have to be sharp because they both can run into a checkmate (get the 'feel' now?). This is another form of 'zugzwang', you're going to have to protect your own King first before you can think about follow up on the attack. So it's more covered up this kind of 'zugzwang', and it's not so easy to discover right away. When you like these type of 'forced' situations, there's only one thingh that pops up in my mind: end games.]
31... Rg8 32.Qh5 Qf2??
[Black had everything under controle, there was only one thing he had to keep his Queen on the a1-h8 diagonal and it would have been a draw for sure. It should have been a move like 32... Qc3 or 32... Qf6.]
[Game over, White went for the direct kill. This was a very interesting game. A nice opening, good middle game play with a lot of tactical possibilities. A mistake decided the game. Very well played Danilo and Barry!]